Create Colorful Leaf Prints for Fall

November 3, 2016

Leaf PrintsCreating colorful leaf prints is one of my children's favorite simple fall craft projects. We love to take advantage of Marin's great fall weather and go on family hikes and walks at this time of year. Along the way, the kids collect interesting autumn leaves, which we bring home to use as decorations and to make leaf prints.

Making leaf prints is an easy project that kids of all ages can do, and the results can be really beautiful. To make them you’ll need:

Where Academics and Character Are Classmates: Character Building Tools at Home and at School

November 3, 2016

Marin Horizon School

Marin Mommies presents a sponsored article from Marin Horizon School, which offers education for children from toddler through 8th grade in Mill Valley.

Children as young as two years old are already beginning to build social awareness and an understanding of their place in the world. Parents often chose schools with strong character-building programs, like Marin Horizon, because they value having their children educated in a culture of integrity, respect, and responsibility. It is in the heartfelt partnership between parents and schools that children are taught the core values and skills that create strong character.

Horse-Drawn Tours of Novato's Holiday Lights with Indian Valley Carriage

November 1, 2016

Indian Valley CarriageWant to tour Novato's spectacular holiday lights the old fashioned way this winter? Book a trip via horse-drawn carriage or wagon from Gary Sello and Indian Valley Carriage. Novato residents have probably seen Gary and his team cruising the streets at Christmas time, especially near the famous Rombeiro Christmas House on Devonshire Drive.

50-minute tours start at Center Road and Wilson Avenue (across from Miss Sandie's School) at 5:30, 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 pm, and include a pass by the famous Rombeiro house on Devonshire Drive (and maybe even a stop to tour the inside, depending on schedule and how busy the house is). Gary's carriage seats six average size adults, and his large covered wagon seats twelve. The wagon also has rain protection, although tours will be canceled in the event of heavy rain or wind. Reservations are required, and tours do sell out during the holiday season, so reserve your spot early!

We've ridden in Gary's covered wagon before, and it's spacious and comfortable with plenty of room, and it's also a lot of fun. So get your friends and family together and book a tour before they're sold out.

Visit a Museum for Free in November

November 1, 2016

Visit a Bay Area Museum for freeDid you know you can visit most of the Bay Area's major museums and cultural attractions for free every month? Just about all museums have one day a month set aside as a free day. They all aren't on the same day, too, so if you plan it right you can take in several museum outings without having to pay a thing.

Note that most museums charge for admission to special exhibitions and usually only the special exhibition fee is charged on free days; see details with each museum listing below.

Also, groups are generally not admitted on free days; check with each museum for their free day group policy.

First Tuesday of the Month—November 1

Help Feed the World's Largest Turkey at Town Center Corte Madera

November 1, 2016

Giant Turkey Town Center Corte Madera

This holiday season, Town Center Corte Madera proudly welcomes back the World’s Largest Turkey, who will gratefully collect your donations of canned food, non-perishable items, and toiletries. Donations will be distributed by the SF-Marin Food Bank to Marin families in need this holiday season. This year marks the Giant Turkey’s 23rd annual appearance at Town Center—this year the Turkey will be “roosting” in the Center Court under the clock tower across from Blue Barn.

Family Holiday Performances at Marin Center

November 1, 2016

Stapleton Ballet Nutcracker at Marin Center this Holiday SeasonYou can always count on finding a variety of wonderful holiday performances for the whole family at Marin Center in San Rafael, and the 2016 season is no exception. There’s definitely something for everyone, so bring the family to one of these Marin holiday classics. Many of these productions sell out early, so order your tickets soon to avoid disappointment.

Marin Center is located off Civic Center Drive at 10 Avenue of the Flags in San Rafael, adjacent to the Marin County Civic Center. It comprises two of Marin County's premier performance venues: the 1,960-seat Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium, which hosts major concerts, performances, and events, and the smaller, more intimate 315-seat Showcase Theater.

For more information on Marin Center, including seating charts, tickets, directions, and a full schedule of events and performances, visit the County of Marin's Cultural Services website.

Hit the Ice! Holiday Ice Skating in the Bay Area

October 31, 2016

Ice skating at Marin on Ice

Even though it's an activity that you can do year-round, ice skating seems to be something that's especially appealing around the holidays. Marin on Ice is back at Northgate in San Rafael for another season of outdoor ice skating, so you don't have to leave Marin County to go skate! It's the only rink in the county, but you'll find more opportunities to skate in San Francisco, Santa Rosa, and the East Bay. Here's our list of places to hit the ice in the Bay Area this holiday season.

Marin on Ice

Marin on Ice outdoor skating rink in San Rafael's Northgate Mall returns to offers al fresco skating from Wednesday, November 9, 2016 through January 8, 2017. The rink will once again be located near the center's Oaktree Plaza and features 6,400 square feet of real ice. Skating costs $15 per person, which includes skate rental and all-day in-and-out privileges. "Skate Buddies" (the blue plastic chair-like supports) are available for beginnners. Discount ticket books (10 tickets for $120) are available, too.

Time Change and Babies/Toddlers: How to Help Your Little One Adjust

October 29, 2016

sleeping toddlerMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Marin parent coach, infant/toddler sleep researcher, and family therapist Angelique Millette.

With the time change approaching, I have received many e-mails and phone calls from parents asking how they can help their babies and toddlers transition to the new time without upsetting their child’s sleep.

Starting Sunday, November 6, clocks will be set back one hour for daylight savings time. Often called “fall back,” we can count on sunset starting at approximately 5 pm and sunrise starting at approximately 6 am.

You can help your baby or toddler by starting to adjust their internal clocks/circadian rhythms ahead of the time change on Sunday. Starting Tuesday, November 1, begin to put baby down 10 minutes later for bed. You can do this by comforting, singing or book reading, and/or starting the bedtime ritual/routine 10 minutes later. Do this for the rest of the week, so when the time change does happen, your baby will have slowly adjusted to the new time.

Marin Family Weekend Fun for October 28, 29 & 30

October 28, 2016

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this Halloween weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Events Calendar.

Looking for a neighborhood to trick-or-treat in? Check out our list of places in Marin here.

Friday, October 28

  • The Amazing Maze
    Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
    Friday, 9 am–4 pm and Saturday–Sunday, 9 am– 5 pm

    Children experience the joys and surprises of black light in this glow-in-the-dark hay maze. In this special exhibit, children are challenged to navigate a 150-bale hay maze—complete with tunnels, netting, and a slide—all under black light! In addition to the winding maze, there is a glow-in-the-dark dress-up station with white clothes and accessories for kids to try on, as well as a fluorescent Shoot-A-Hoop game. Admisson applies. Location: 557 McReynolds Road, Fort Baker, Sausalito. For more info, visit their website.
  • Peter Pumpkin Patch
    Spring Hill Jersey Farm, Petaluma
    Friday–Sunday, 9 am–6 pm

    Pick your own organic pumpkin, dig for potatoes, take a tractor ride, visit farm animals, taste homemade ice cream and Spring Hill cheese, milk a cow, and get lost in the hay maze. Peter Pumpkin Patch also offers fresh fruits and vegetables and picnic baskets. Activities are free and so is the parking. This is a wonderful and fun pumpkin patch on a real working farm. Location: 4235 Spring Hill Road (off Bodega Ave.). For more info, call (707) 762-3446 or visit their website.
  • Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–6 pm
    Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch offers a wide variety of certified organic pumpkins spread out in an expansive meadow on the farm. Kids activities: jumpy houses, inflatable slide, hay rides, pony rides, a petting zoo, farm animals to visit, a climbing wall, and face painting. Some of these attractions have an admission fee, and some are available only on weekends and select days. Shaded seating area with picnic tables, so you can relax and take in the scenery, listen to some great live music, and even eat lunch. If you arrive hungry, Big Jim's BBQ is on hand on weekends. Tim Cain performs on Sunday from 11 am to noon. Location: 5300 Nicasio Valley Road, Nicasio. Read our review here. For more info, visit their website.
  • Godmothers Pumpkin Patch
    St. Vincents, Marinwood
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–5 pm

    This long-time favorite pumpkin patch at St. Vincent's near Marinwood offers a variety of pumpkins as well as attractions and activities like bounce houses, a hay pile, face painting, snack shack, and a picnic area. Groups welcome. Read our review of St. Vincent's Pumpkin Patch. For more info, visit their website.
  • Petaluma Pumpkin Patch
    550 Stony Point Road
    Friday & Saturday, 10 am–10 pm, Sunday, 10 am–6 pm
    Over 50 varieties of pumpkins, squash, and gourds, as well as a 4-acre Amazing Corn Maze (admission $6, 5 and under free; $9 on Friday and Saturday nights 6–10 pm), farm animals, a zip line, weekend pony rides, face painting, jumpy houses and inflatables, food vendors, covered snack area, and more. Some of these attractions have an admission fee. For more info, visit their website.
  • Halloween Music and Magic Show
    Mill Valley Community Center
    Friday, 4–5 pm

    Thrills and chills await us a s Timothy James amazes us with his Halloween magic show. Our magician combines comedy, audience participation and amazing magic to create a spooktacular 45 minutes show for goblins ages 3 to 103. Cost: $9 general, free for kids 3 and under. For more info, visit their website.
  • Trunk or Treat at the Center
    Mill Valley Community Center
    Friday, 4:30–6:30 pm

    Bring your children to the Community Center Parking Lot for a fun, safe and community Halloween event! Enjoy face painting, food truck, games, and more! Free admission. Location: 180 Camino Alto, Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website
  • Chess Night
    Mathnasium of Mill Valley
    Friday, 6–7 pm

    Stop by Mathnasium on Friday night for an hour of free supervised play for K–8th graders. All skill levels are welcome. Free pizza! Location: 247 Shoreline Highway, Suite A3. For more info, visit their website.
  • It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
    Snoopy's Home Ice, Santa Rosa
    Friday, 6–8:30 pm

    Bring your blanket and pick a spot on the ball field for a night of ghoulish fun and Halloween festivities. Movie starts at dusk on the inflatable big screen. Meet Snoopy and the Peanuts gang, enjoy Halloween crafts and trivia games, and follow the trick-or-treat trail. Free popcorn and "witches brew". Costumes encouraged. At Schulz Complex Ball Field on Hardies Lane across from Snoopy's Home Ice. For more info, visit their website.
  • Novato Horsemen Haunted House
    600 Bugeia Lane, Novato
    Friday & Saturday, 7–10 pm

    Bring the kids out for a night of scare and fun at the Novato Horseman Haunted House in Novato. Admission: $5 per person. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, October 29

  • The Jungle Book & Costume Contest
    Marin Theatre Company, Mill Valley
    Saturday, 10 am, 12:30 & 3 pm and Sunday, 10 am & 12:30 pm

    Bring the family too see The Jungle Book at the Marin Theatre Company. Dress up as their favorite jungle creature for the Halloween Costume Contest. Tickets: adults $22 and children $18. Purchase tickets here. Location: 397 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.
  • North Bay Science Discovery Day
    Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa
    Saturday, 10 am–4 pm

    This event is designed to inspire children and raise awareness of the importance of STEM in everyday life. This free event features local organizations like Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Aquarium of the Bay, California State Parks, the Marin County Free Library, Kaiser Permanente, Marinovators, the Pacific Coast Air Museum, Play-Well TEKnologies, and many many more. Plan on staying all day to experience all the fun! Free admission and parking. Location: 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. For more info, visit their website.
  • McClelland's Dairy Pumpkin Patch
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–5 pm

    Find the perfect pumpkin in McClelland's three-acre organic pumpkin field. Free admission includes pumpkin patch, petting farm animals (including cows, goats, and chickens), and watching cows being milked in the parlor. There's also a hay maze, kids' haunted hay house, hay rides, bounce houses, and u-pick squash, as well as a farm store and a food cart serving organic grilled cheese sandwiches, organic milkshakes, organic popcorn, and espresso drinks. Some of these attractions have an admission fee. Read our review here. For more info, visit their website. 
  • Scream on the Green
    Downtown Novato
    Saturday, 10 am–4 pm

    Bring the entire family for the Scream on the Green Halloween spectacular in Downtown Novato. Activities include safe trick-or-treating downtown on from 11 am–2 pm, a haunted house, games, and more. Location: Sherman Avenue and the Civic Green and Novato City Hall complex. For more info, visit their website.
  • Annual Pumpkin Patch & Train Festival
    Western Railway Museum, Suisun City
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–5 pm

    Get your Halloween pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns, test your strength with the pumpkin launcher, explore our huge hay bale fortress, and enjoy a train ride too. Gather the family and begin at the Western Railway Museum. Doors open at 9:30 -- The first electric express train leaves at 10:00 AM with departures every half-hour until 4pm. Cost: adults $14, children (2–14 yrs) $10 and seniors $12. For more info, visit their website.
  • Boo at the Zoo
    Oakland Zoo
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–3 pm

    Stroll the Oakland zoo in costume and collect yummy treats. Ride the spooky boo train and join the dance party. Plus, get your face painted, make treats for the animals, and see how the animals at Oakland Zoo celebrate Halloween. Kids in costumes receive a free ride ticket. Event included with regular zoo admission. For more info, visit their website.
  • Jack O’Lantern Jamboree at Children’s Fairyland
    Children's Fairyland, Oakland

    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–5 pm
    Come in costume and enjoy a spooktacular extravaganza with unlimited rides, a parade, goody bags for kids, arts and crafts, pirate school, clowns and magicians, and much more. Cost: $10 ($5 members). For more info, visit their website.
  • Samurai Pumpkin Patch
    142 Redwood Avenue Parking Lot, Corte Madera
    Saturday, 10 am–noon

    Warm up with the pumpkin obstacle course and come test your sword skills. Split, slice, dice and have a mighty good time. All ages welcome. Kids get priority. The event will continue until pumpkins run out. For more info, call (415) 264-0157.
  • Happy Creepy Hall-oween
    Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley
    Saturday, 10 am–5 pm

    Start your Halloween early and celebrate all weekend long during Happy Creepy Hall-oween. From pumpkin lifts in the Ingenuity Lab to giant trebuchet demonstrations with UC Berkeley’s Pioneers in Engineering program, you’re sure to find the perfect way to celebrate with science. Free with paid admission. For more info, visit their website.
  • Halloween Boos, Bones and Walking with the Dead
    Safari West, Santa Rosa
    Saturday, 10 am

    Join us in celebrating Halloween at Safari West and trick-or-treat through our new skeletal exhibit designed by Safari West's osteology team! With tricks and treats, pumpkins and skulls, bats and bones, the Safari West Halloween Spectacular is an event the whole family can enjoy together! Includes all the Spirited Halloween fun plus a hauntingly tasty taco bar! Cost: $50 adults; $25 children 4–12. Reservations: (707) 566-3667 or You can also book online here. For more info, visit their website.
  • Día de los Muertos Celebration
    Mill Valley Community Center
    Saturday, 10:30 am–1 pm

    Mill Valley Recreation joins the joyful celebration of dearly departed family, friends, and pets during the Mexican festival Day of the Dead. Join in the celebration by participating in several free activities, decorating sugar skulls, getting your face painted, and creating memory boxes. All ages are welcome! Location: 180 Camino Alto, Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.
  • Bay Area Children's Theatre: Seussical TYA
    Saturday, 10:30 am & 1:30 pm
    Freight & Salvage, Berkeley

    The whimsical world of Dr. Seuss springs to life in this imagination-infused musical! Horton the Elephant discovers a dust speck is actually an entire planet, Gertrude McFuzz wishes she had a flashier feathered tail, and Jojo the Who's elaborate thinks keep getting him into trouble! The Cat in the Hat is your magical master of ceremonies in this sensational smorgasbord of Seuss stories. Recommended for age 3 and up. Tickets: $25 adults, $20 children, $23 seniors. Location: 2020 Addison Street, Berkeley. For more info, visit their website.
  • Safe Trick-or-Treat Downtown Novato
    Grant Avenue, Novato
    Saturday, 11 am–2 pm

    The Downtown Novato Business Association will host its annual Safe Trick-or-Treat event along Grant Avenue in downtown Novato. Every year this Halloween event is popular with kids and their parents. Businesses along Grant Avenue will give out candy and there will be a variety of other fun activities at various locations downtown. This is a fun event for the entire family. For more info, visit their website.
  • Bon Air's Halloween Bash
    Bon Air Center, Greenbrae
    Saturday, 11 am–3 pm

    Bon Air’s Halloween Bash will offer center wide trick-or-treating at shops and restaurants, pumpkin decorating, face painting, balloon twisting, live music, sidewalk specials and more. Four-legged friends can get in on the fun as well by entering the pet parade and pet contest sponsored by Woodland Pets. A pet caricature artist will also be on hand to do sketches of pets. Families are encouraged to trick-or-treat so others can eat—bring non-perishable food donations to the Center in exchange for a trick-or-treat bag and help feed those less fortunate this holiday season. Bins will be set up around the center to collect the donations, which will be distributed through the Marin Food Bank. For more info, visit their website.
  • Jeepers Jack-O-Lanterns
    McNears Beach Park, San Rafael
    Saturday, 11 am–1 pm

    Join rangers at McNears Beach Park in carving your own spooky jack-o-lantern for Halloween! A limited amount of pumpkins will be available (or you’re welcome to bring your own). This event is ideal for all ages. All skill levels are welcome and no experience is necessary. Dress in layers and wear sturdy shoes. We will provide supplies, smocks, and healthy snacks. Park entrance is waived for participants. Meet at the snack bar. For more info, visit their website.
  • Boo at the Zoo 2016
    San Francisco Zoo
    Saturday & Sunday, 11 am–4 pm

    Come to the San Francisco Zoo for a not-too-spooky Halloween family festival where you can trick-or-treat around the zoo and see the animals enjoy pumpkin treats. Take a trip through the Haunted Nature Trail, trick-or-treat, and enjoy Halloween crafts. All activities are free with admission. For more info, visit their website.
  • Creative Family Fun: Dia de los Muertos Masks
    Presidio Officers Club, San Francisco
    Saturday & Sunday, 11 am–4 pm

    Drop in for imaginative craft-making based on the Presidio’s natural and cultural heritage. Featuring different crafts every weekend!
    Come get creative during Dia de Los Muertos mask-making and learn all about the Presidio’s connection to Mexico. Registration not required, but preferred. For more info, visit their website.
  • Pirate Halloween Party
    Falkirk Mansion, San Rafael
    Saturday, noon & 3 pm

    Thar "Fancy Scallywag!" be pirates in th' house. Put on your best pirate gear, br'n your crew an' come th' Falkirk. Event includes a "pirate feast" with real pirates, treasure hunt, individual treasures, and Halloween tricks and treats! Tickets: Tickets are $20 per child and $22.50 per adult. Make reservations by calling (800) 838-3006 or visiting Brown Paper Tickets. Location: 1408 Mission Avenue at E Street, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
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